Gov. Ducey to Dispute U.S. Treasury Claim He's Misspending COVID Relief Money
PHOENIX — Gov. Doug Ducey is preparing to fight the Biden administration’s threat to strip Arizona of $163 million in federal COVID relief money for public education.
The governor said Anni Foster, his legal counsel, is writing a letter to the U.S. Department of the Treasury responding to its claims last month that Ducey is using the money in illegal ways by giving it only to schools that do not require students and staff to wear masks.
Deputy Treasury Secretary Adewale Adeyemo said Ducey’s usage runs afoul of legal requirements to use the money for “evidence-based efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
He said Ducey also is misspending the cash by giving out $7,000 vouchers — formally known as “empowerment scholarship accounts” — to parents who want to pull their kids out of schools with mask mandates and instead send them to private and parochial schools without such a requirement.
Adeyemo gave Ducey until the middle of next week to explain how the state will “remediate the issues.” He said his agency can demand the money back if the state doesn’t fix the problem.
Ducey said he is doing nothing wrong.
“It’s going to schools that follow the law,” he said Friday. He was referring to a state law, approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature earlier this year, that forbids schools from imposing mask mandates.